Crime in Japan

You never know what the day will bring—that’s the exciting thing about waking up. So this morning, just as I was heading out for a fresh can of coffee at the corner 7-Eleven, I noticed somebody’d pasted a scary Japanese note to the windshield of my car.

“Contract parking place!!” it said in large, crimson kanji, written with what appeared to be a stubbly red crayon. “Never park here!!” Heh, and they say Japanese people are subtle. Sure they are, until you do something wrong. Anyway, I had to admit I felt a bit of pride in that I could read the terrible note, and also that I finally owned a car in Japan. Yet all things considered, somehow I felt bad. Emotions sure are confusing. I really wished it was night, so I could buy beer, which solves that problem. Continue reading “Crime in Japan”

One Japanese Book You Must Read

You should think twice about taking any advice Ken Seeroi’s got to give. I mean, we’re talking a guy who ditched a sensible life in a first-world country for a freezing, tiny apartment, sleeping on the floor, and eating rice with sticks. So, really? Well, it’s not so bad once I move the shochu boxes and cockroaches out of the way. Just trying to put things into perspective, you know.

How to Take a Bath in Japan

There’s a lot of information on how to do things “right” in Japan. How to take off your shoes, bow, give small gifts, blow your nose, take a bath. It’s like a country that comes with its own instruction manual. Continue reading “One Japanese Book You Must Read”

How to Learn Kanji, in 10 Steps

I don’t go to a lot of cocktail parties. But somehow when I do, I always meet people studying Japanese. Maybe it’s just me. Or more precisely, people who’ll eventually stop studying, only they don’t know it yet. Here’s how the conversation goes:

“Ken! I’m studying Japanese! I’m stoked! And I’m completely serious about improving. Just tell me what to do—anything—and I’ll do it.

“Three words,” I reply. “Paint my house. Nah, just kidding. You should learn the kanji.

“Ah, you know,” they begin to trail off, “I just want to speak Japanese, not read it. Continue reading “How to Learn Kanji, in 10 Steps”

The Easiest Japanese Food

Every once in a while, I discover something in Japan so amazing that I’m compelled to share it with the world. Fortunately, that feeling passes after a few beers, so I don’t actually have to do any work, which I’m allergic to. I’m pretty sure that if I was ever given a job involving something like a shovel I’d break out in hives. I’m not even sure which button you push to make the thing start.

Now, if you were to stop random Japanese people on the street and mention my name, they’d likely reply: Ken Seeroi? Oh, he’s got the sensibilities of an 80 year-old Japanese chef. Either that or, Isn’t he the dude sleeping in the park over there? Continue reading “The Easiest Japanese Food”

Fantasy Japan

2004, now that was a great year. It was the Golden Age of Japan.

I was on my seventh trip here, crisscrossing the nation by high-speed shinkansen in search of small, traditional restaurants, ancient temples, and women with long black hair and short skirts. By then, I figured I knew the country pretty well, spoke a few words of the language, and was seriously contemplating just sleeping on the beach and never returning. I was in love with Japan. It lived up to all of my expectations. Continue reading “Fantasy Japan”